Tag Archives: sin

maranatha, burns brightest in dark places, Day 18

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“Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan. The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” Is 9.1-2

I have been so impressed with Isaiah this Advent; not only by the incredible magnitude of Messianic prophecy it contains, but with its powerful and broad-reaching revelations of God’s character. In yesterday’s passage in Isaiah 50, there was this beautiful two-verse conclusion: “Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God. But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment.”

At first reading, I was very confused; the people walking in darkness go off free, while those living in light are condemned? How does this match up with everything else I read in Scripture? But then I saw the key point: “all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches”. This is the same statement Jesus made in Mark, when he told the Pharisees (who proudly flaunted their own self-made torches), “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Obviously, the clear truth here is that those who find themselves healthy (or “in the light”) are merely deceiving themselves. Jesus came to shed light into the darkest places of us, but only those who recognize their deep depravity would welcome any such light in the first place.

My God, remind me that You are my only source of light. You are the author of Light in this world, the very source of it in the first place. Keep bringing me to my knees. Keep reminding me that I have not made any of this bright fire on my own. All the glory and credit is Yours.

“For God, who said, ‘Let there be light in the darkness,’ has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4.6

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maranatha, the great missionary, Day 16

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“Listen to me, you islands, hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name, He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver. He said to me, ‘You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.’ And now the Lord says – he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord and my God has been my strength – he says: ‘It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.’” Isaiah 49. 1-3, 5-6

Israel was born to be a nation of missionaries. As seen God’s promise to patriarch, “Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him” (Gen 18.18), God chose this people to be his shining light to the world. A people set apart by God to emulate his character, to reveal his blessings, to proclaim his truth and love the world. But they failed. Rather than emulating his heart, they took the Law and followed the letter while missing the point. They became so consumed in their own sin and rebellion that they ended up looking just like the world.

Enter Jesus. The Creator God become incarnate flesh, Yeshua was set apart before conception to be God’s holy servant, perfect in obedience and love. He is the Light of the World, shining God’s truth and character to Jew and Gentile.

Ultimately, the nation of Israel shows us one thing: we all need Jesus. We are all equally/completely broken; it is so easy for me to take God’s calling made clear in the scriptures and turn it into some pious act of discipline to become proud, “following” the letter and missing the point. Jesus came as the Great Missionary, gathering for himself a people from every part of the world to call to his heart. From Nazareth all the way to Kenai, Alaska. And even farther…


 

 

maranatha: dirty silver, Day 12

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“So they paid me thirty pieces of silver… ‘Throw it to the potter’ – the handsome price at which they valued me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the house of the Lord.“ Zech 11.13

Not the happiest of verses for an Advent reading, but there is not joy in Christmas without the anticipation of Good Friday, and, even more so, of Easter. For the traditional price of a slave, Judas sold out his Rabbi, the man he outwardly claimed to pledge his whole life to. Not to mention his very Creator and God. 500 years before Jesus became man, God told his people that they would be rescued, by the means of utter betrayal.

If you interpret the idea of redemption as many Bible teachers do (“to redeem” meaning “to buy back from slavery”), Jesus being sold at a slaves price to his death, by which he frees us from slavery, gives a whole new light to the concept of Redemption.

maranatha, healed, Day 10

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“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hid their faces, he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Is 53.3-6

I praise God that he is “familiar with pain”. A man of suffering, my Great High Priest knows my heartache firsthand, not just because he created me, but because he experienced it himself. But Jesus is not only familiar with my trials and sufferings; he is deeply acquainted with the pain caused by my own hand. Like the people of Israel in the book of Judges, so often I live my life with no king, doing whatever seems right in my own eyes. He takes the pain that I can’t control and the pain I deserve for myself…. And by his wounds, I am healed.

Praise You, Jesus.

maranatha: perfect timing, Day 6

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“I’m declaring war between you and the woman, between your offspring and hers. He’ll wound your head, you’ll wound his heel.” Gen 3:15 (MSG)

This brings it back even farther than yesterday. Titled the “proto evangelium” in super-theological circles, this is the very first taste of the Gospel we see in written form. At the very moment of the first sin, God reveals His ultimate plan. There will be pain and suffering, but there will also be hope and complete victory. The amazing thing is, even in this little verse we see that Jesus himself takes the pain we both caused and deserved from our sin to rescue us. We rebelled, we acted in pride, and he is the one who is wounded.

“The fact is, it was our pains he carried – our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us… it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him – our sins! He took the punishment that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed.” Is 53.4-5 (MSG)

Sin and Surrender

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I’m a morning person for the most part, but even the brightest early riser can sometimes have trouble getting her day going. Therefore, I’ve developed the habit of listening to music as I make my bed each morning; something to help me adjust to the pace of no longer sleeping and now being active, in addition to making a somewhat menial task more enjoyable. But this morning my Spotify radio station played me an unfamiliar song by All Sons and Daughters, called “Dawn to Dusk”. Like the majority of this group’s songs, the lyrics themselves were rather simple, but one line really hit me. I’ll give it to you in the context of the whole chorus:

Tomorrow’s freedom is today’s surrender
We come before You, lay our burdens down
We look to You as our hearts remember
You are the only God, You are our only God

Recently I’ve become very aware of a specific sin I’ve been warring with. It’s a consistent, very difficult struggle, one I lose more often than I win. And every time I find myself in that same place of temptation, I start feeling hopeless, like I am never going to be strong enough to overcome the allure of this sin so perfectly fitted to my own depraved desires. I know the promise that God will not allow the temptation to be more than I can stand, that He will always give me a way out (1 Cor 10:13), but time after time after time I simply don’t choose that way out. I choose to give in to sin. I decide that I want the tasty bait, even though I know there’s gonna be a hook on the end. I surrender, and each time I surrender to temptation, the next time becomes that much easier. If I didn’t know any better, I’d almost think I was being led into a cage, like a dumb little animal following dog treats one step at a time.

Because I’ve been thinking about my struggle in terms of “surrender and “bondage”, the first line of that chorus really struck me. Tomorrow’s freedom is today’s surrender. I need to surrender, but not to sin. I need to surrender my life, my choices, my heart, my mind, to Jesus. I need to let Him have His way with me. Only then will I experience freedom. And the most beautiful part of this is that each time I am tempted to sin and instead choose to surrender to Jesus, the next surrender will be easier!

I praise You, God, for Your faithfulness to me. Thank You for never giving up on me. Thank You that you do not demand perfection of me, but that instead You kneel down and help me in both my desires and my actions to emulate Your Son. Thank You for Your Hesed, that You relentlessly call me to Yourself. Help me to hear you loud and clear, especially in those times when I’m tempted so strongly. Help me to choose you. Help me to surrender. Help me to walk in the freedom You’ve bought for me, for I don’t want to take it lightly.